Earlier today I mentioned that economist Thomas Sowell was retiring from writing his syndicated column. For decades Sowell, age 86, has been one of the leading thinkers in the libertarian and conservative circles. But what is less known is the intellectual journey he took from being an advocate of socialism to a champion of free markets.
This past summer I wrote an article for The Stream examining on how Sowell thought his way into Marxism, then back out again into a vision of freedom:
“Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great,” wrote Thomas Sowell. “It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.”
These words, the opening of a column from last year, provide a fair summation of Sowell’s own journey through socialist thought. Until he was in his thirties Sowell was a committed Marxist, and deeply attracted to socialism. It was only after he went beyond the rhetoric and started “looking at hard facts” that he came to see that socialism is always “a big disappointment, if not a disaster.”